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Alt-Nation: Vikings, Gypsies and Cows

Kris Hansen The Viking Jesus

Kris Hanson has been a staple on the local music scene performing both solo and with his band Viking Jesus for the past 20 years. His new record, Kris Hansen The Viking Jesus, is a hodgepodge of both the indie folk of solo work and the more Beatles-esque inspired rock of Viking Jesus.  The album sound is rich with each note ringing out clear, no doubt thanks to the wizardry of Viking Jesus guitarist and producer George Dussault. The album starts out slow with the folk of “Bury Your Bags” that is kind of the anti-song to someone that subscribes to the “don’t bore us, get to the chorus” mentality. By the third track Hansen and the band start to hit their stride with “Passing The Buck” with Dussault’s George Harrison style guitar leads providing a complementary foil to Hansen’s acoustic. “A Song For My Father” tugs at the heartstrings while the catchy groove of “Friends” is another winner. The album closes with “The Giver,” which borrows the melody from “Dirty Old Town” and buttresses it with Hansen’s lyrics to usher the tune into the modern age.

Kris Hansen does acoustic sets every Thurs at the Fatt Squirrel in PVD starting at 8pm and the great thing is there is never a cover.


Coma Coma – New American Dream (75orLess Records)

Coma Coma have always reminded me of late ’90s alternative rock bands like Radiohead and Hum. Coma Coma works the quiet verse to loud chorus formula with “Warning From The Outside” with mediocre results. The verse lingers too long and doesn’t really have the punch to carry it to the chorus. On the other hand, “Lost in The Slow Decay” excels in this format because it is stronger both musically and lyrically. Even better is “21st Century Savior,” which between its sing-a-long from the ledge chorus to the stoner rock guitar sorcery, might be the best thing that Coma Coma has ever done! New American Dream closes with “Letter to Your Former Self,” which is a 9-minute opus that channels Pink Floyd and Sonic Youth with an outro that is an indie rock version of “Free Bird.”

Further Down the Road, Classic Ruins, Silver Screams, and Coma Coma will drop the hammer at AS220 on Feb 20.

Hot Rocks:

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic

I’ve often said that George Clinton has the easiest job in rock ‘n’ roll, presiding over his orchestra of seasoned pros in Parliament Funkadelic. He comes out, sings a bar and maybe grunts, and then goes off to the background or leaves the stage for 10 minutes only to return and repeat. Who knows what he does in the meantime or cares what he’s does in the meantime with the funk so fly? In the old days there were stories alleging he was smoking crack in the basement; nowadays he’s probably Tinder-ing. Clinton has long since cleaned up. Gone are his trademarked dreads in favor of suave suit and hat. He seems like he’s having a blast and the players who make up the current version of Parliament Funkadelic all slay when it comes to propelling the mother ship with an overload of ’70s funk.

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic and Chachi Carvalho and the International Players will pump out the jams at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel on Feb 20.

Gogol Bordello

Few bands with a message make their performance a party the way Gogol Bordello rock the house. They play gypsy folk songs with the intensity of Motorhead, the conscience of Joe Strummer, and the flair of the Stones. Eons ago at the Living Room, singer/guitarist/head honcho Eugene Hutz agreed with my initial take that Gogol Bordello were like The Pogues if they were from Eastern Europe with the attitude of The Clash. Their latest record, 2013’s Pura Vida Conspiracy  (ATO Records), was their best record in my opinion. However, on stage under the spotlights will always be where Gogol Bordello is truly at their best.

Gogol Bordello will rock it revolution style at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel on Feb 28.  This is an early show with doors at 6pm and show to begin at 7pm.

Two Cow Garage

Whenever the book is written on post-millennium indie rock, Columbus, Ohio’s Two Cow Garage is going to be one of the central figures. Otherwise branded as alt-country, Two Cow Garage probably owes as much  of a debt to The Replacements as anyone. Singer/bassist Micah Schnabel has seemingly an endless supply of anthems channeling everything from the teenage punk romance of youth to the alt-country exploration of adulthood. Two Cow Garage are one of the best bands in the world that you’re ever going to have the opportunity to see in 120-person capacity club.

Two Cow Garage, Six Star General, The Pourmen, and The McGunks will rock Firehouse 13 on Feb 28.  

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